7 tips for getting rid of debt in your 20s

Between tackling student loan debt, buying a house and a mountain of bills, the thought of paying off your debt can feel daunting in your 20s and 30s.

According to Make Lemonade, there are more than 44 million borrowers with $1.3 trillion in student loan debt in the U.S. alone. So, how can you pay down your debt or avoid it altogether early in life? Here are seven simple ways to build financial wellness:

1. Tackle your student loans

Put your student loans on auto-pay, investment company Ellevest recommends. This could save you at least 0.25 percent on interest expenses and it'll ensure that you never pay a late fee. Student loans will also likely have different interest rates, so it's smart to pay off the loans with the highest interest rates first.

If you’ve paid your loans on time, you can also call a lender and ask for a lower interest rate. It may not work, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

2. Not all debt is created equal 

Not all debt is created equal. If you’ve got a significant amount of credit card debt, you’ll want to tackle that first before trying to cut down on student loans and other types of debt. Credit card debts often come along with high interest rates, and it can harm your credit score if you miss payments. Make a list of your debts and pay off the debt with the highest interest rates first, and go from there.

3. Have an emergency savings fund 

Emergencies happen, and a lot of people don’t have enough saved to pay for unexpected medical bills, car issues or other expenses that pop up. Instead of depending on a credit card to pay for emergencies, start to build up a small emergency savings fund. Start with $1,000 as a fund to tap into when you need it.

» WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Digging out from a mountain of debt? You are not alone

4. Think about who you marry 

While it’s not romantic, it’s an awkward conversation to have with your significant other before you say “I do.” You can even incur your partner’s debts in some cases. Have an honest conversation with your partner about credit scores and their personal financial decisions before tying the knot. If their debt is a concern, discuss a prenuptial agreement, which can protect you against your spouse’s debt.

5. Create a budget 

Creating a budget will give you a concrete plan, telling you where your money is going, according to clark.com. Organize expenses in an Excel sheet or download an app like Mint to budget your expenses. Tracking what you spend gives you insight into some unnecessary spending patterns you have.

6. Downsize 

While you won't always be thinking about debt, you may have to downsize while you work on paying it off,  according to clark.com. Take a look at your spending patters and ask yourself if there's something you really don't need? Are you spending too much on entertainment or eating out? What subscription services can you go without? Do you really use that gym membership? You can also sell items you don't use like extra furniture.

7. Start thinking about retirement now 

You can pay off debt while thinking about retirement. Contribute what you can to your 401(k) or retirement-specific fund. If your employer offers matching contributions, try to meet their match. Contributions will typically be tax-deductible.